Zelda Producer on Long Tutorials: "I'm Going to Be Careful Not to Do That"

The producer for the new Wii U Zelda wants to avoid the lengthy tutorials seen in titles like Skyward Sword.

Do you remember how the beginning of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword felt like it took forever to go through the tutorials and get to the adventure? Eiji Aonuma, producer/director of many Legend of Zelda titles, definitely remembers. In an interview with Kotaku writer Jason Schreier, Mr. Aonuma explained what he learned from Skyward Sword's tutorial heavy intro.

Yes. When we created Skyward Sword, I really felt the need to make sure that everyone playing the game understood it. But I also understand now, in hindsight, that when you go out and buy a game, you buy the game because you want to play it, and you don't want to have any obstacles in the way. And I guess it was received as a bit of an obstacle.

In a game, it's when you get stuck, when you want that help. And I kinda frontloaded all that in Skyward Sword, and it doesn't really help to get that information when you don't know what to do with it. So that was a real learning experience for me. So I'm going to be careful not to do that.

The Legend of Zelda franchise has always been one of the finer examples of how to do tutorials right. In fact, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past has one of the best tutorials of all time. How good was it?

It took me nearly 20 years to realize everything from the beginning of the game to the moment you first rescue Princess Zelda is one long tutorial. It's incredible to go back and realize just how many mechanics I learned in that first dungeon without a single dialog box telling me what the A button does.

Perhaps it's appropriate that A Link to the Past's sequel Link Between Worlds would be the first to carry out Mr. Aonuma's new design philosophy by having "hint ghosts" instead of excessive intro tutorials. Since Mr. Aonuma is the producer on the new Wii U Zelda title announced at E3 2014, you can expect the same minimal tutorial approach.

Did you think Skyward Sword's tutorial was too long? Do you think there are too many tutorials in games today? Let us know down in the comments below.

Published Jun. 18th 2014
View Comments
  • Fathoms_4209
    Featured Columnist
    Well, I mean......forgive me, but since when has ANY Nintendo game required a lengthy tutorial? Granted, I'm not all that familiar with Nintendo software but even so, from what I've seen, I can't imagine seasoned gamers needing any tutorials for any Zelda game.

    Then again, this is a big departure for the series, I suppose.
  • Elijah Beahm
    Featured Columnist
    It unsettles me that this is a revelation to such an experienced game designer. It's like saying "you mean people don't enjoy being encouraged to turn their console off during a play session that's long than an hour?"
  • WesleyG
    It's not too shocking that even a game dev veteran would be tempted to jam pack tutorials into their game. Even in the industry at large you have extended sequences to teach you basic game mechanics. RPGs are the worst offenders, sometimes throwing tutorials in hours into the game! I believe Aonuma's experience allowed him to realize that a player can learn things like lifting barrels simply by experimentation instead of having a character spout off lines about the A button.

    Now the play session warnings, that's just Nintendo being helicopter parents. Why they continue to break immersion simply to remind you that gaming can cause health problems I'll never know.

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